AA describes itself as a program of spiritual recovery from alcoholism. Its philosophy and methods have strongly influenced formal treatment programs.
AA’s 12 steps, beginning with an admission of powerlessness over alcohol, provide a structured series of self-examination and improvement tasks to help overcome alcoholism.
Although AA is difficult to evaluate because of its informality, subjectivity, and lack of control groups, formal treatment programs often involve AA participation as an adjunct.
AA’s reputation has led to the development of similar organizations for other types of psychological problems.
Al-Anon is modelled after AA and offers a similar 12-step program for codependents to help them realize their powerlessness over the drinking of their alcoholic family members.
This is seen as necessary before codependents can recover from their own addiction of trying to control their alcoholic family members’ drinking.
They are led to focus primarily on their own recovery, not that of the alcoholic.
Spontaneous recovery from alcohol and other drug dependency apparently occurs, and though most of the evidence is anecdotal, it does suggest that formal treatment is not always necessary.
It is possible that some types of personalities or environmental circumstances are more likely to be associated with such successes.
Research; Jung, J. Recovering from alcohol and other drug dependency. In: J. Jung, Psychology of Alcohol and other Drugs: Research Perspective, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2000. 634 p. (pp. 398-421)